I owned guinea pigs as a child, and things have changed quite a bit over the years when it comes to pet ownership. My kids now have their own guinea pigs (six total!), so we have learned a lot about taking care of guinea pigs, especially when you have so many.
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My daughter did a lot of research when it came to guinea pigs, and decided on a Midwest Cage with fleece liners.
I was hesitant to buy liners, but we were also hoping for a good return on the investment and to be more eco-friendly. We purchased Guinea Dad cage liners to fit our Midwest cages.
I did purchase a cheaper brand liner at one point, but the quality is far inferior. The bottom of the liner is rubbery, making it tough to put in the washer, and things like hay seem to cling quite well to the fleece, making it more difficult to wash.
I have found that I have a little bit of a love-hate relationship with fleece liners! For one, they are more eco-friendly and safe for piggies, but cleaning the liners can be really annoying.
Here are my thoughts and list of pros and cons when it comes to fleece liners.
~ Great for the environment ~
One of the best things about liners is that they are eco-friendly. Like a cloth diaper, you can reuse it many times, saving waste (disposable bedding) from the landfill. However, I do feel like I do a lot of washing, and it takes a lot of pre-washing and rinsing before the liners rinse clean, so I don’t know how wasteful it ends up being when it comes to resources.
~ Comfy for piggies ~
Our piggies definitely enjoy lounging on the cloth liners. Their little feet can even look red on the bottom, and I’m sure the cloth feels so much softer than bedding. There is also a pocket in the Guinea Dad liners, and they love to hide in there.
~ Cheaper in the long run ~
While the liners are an expensive investment, they do pay themselves back in the long run. Even when we buy bedding like aspen bedding or Carefresh pet bedding in bulk, it is surprisingly expensive! Not to mention that I feel like we always run out of bedding when it is time for a cage cleaning.
~ No harmful scents or dusts ~
A lot of bedding has harmful oils or dust that can be bad for guinea pigs as far as their respiratory systems. You aren’t supposed to use certain types of bedding for guinea pigs, like pine bedding, which can be harmful for their health.
~ The initial cost is expensive ~
It was a bit tough to bit the bullet and invest in the fleece liners. We paid an initial cost of over $50 per liner, so it was tough to pay a couple hundred up front. I wanted enough to least us a week, without having to constantly do laundry.
~ The liners get dirty quickly ~
The liners do get dirty quickly. While paper or chips can hold on to messes for a while, piles of poop build up and the liners can be wet. I end up washing out the Midwest Cage as well when the bedding soaks through.
~ You have to prewash and the liners can accumulate hair and hay ~
The liners can be pretty gross after a couple days. I end up thoroughly washing the liners before they go in the wash. First I shake them in the garbage, then shake them as much as I can outside, to remove as much pet hair and hay as possible. Then, I pre-soak them in a bucket to loosen debris. It takes several rinses to remove everything that is soaked in.
~ You aren’t supposed to use heat to dry ~
The liners we have are wool inside, so you are not supposed to dry them in the sun or in a heated dryer, as they will shrink. However, I wanted the liners to get a good sun-drying over the summertime, to reduce any lingering odors and possible kill bacteria. It is kind of like putting items in the dishwasher that aren’t dishwasher safe – eventually I just didn’t have time or patience to air dry the liners and gave in to heat/sun drying.
~ They get buildup ~
There are spots where there are mineral type buildups from the guinea pig’s urine. I have used different stain sprays and vinegar, hot water, etc., but there doesn’t seem to be something that removes it.
~ These don’t work for pet sitters ~
We use regular bedding when we have someone watch the guinea pigs. I don’t want them to have to deal with rolling up the dirty liner. I would not ask anyone to wash it for me, and I wouldn’t want the liner to sit without being washed, so it is easier just to use bedding when someone watches the piggies for us.
The concept of the guinea pig liners is great. There are definitely a lot of pros and cons, and we actually alternate between types of bedding depending on the situation. It is nice that there are so many options out there, since there were not a variety of bedding choices for small pets when I was a kid.
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